Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stay in the Moment and MYOB!

Sunday. Homecoming day. We're packing up and leaving sunny Sonoma to head back to the weekly routine. Bubba (an affectionate nickname for my husband) has showered and dressed and has donned his 'professional traveler' mask. He's encouraging the girls to get dressed so we can get into town and eat before driving off to the airport in San Francisco. I'm lounging in the living room and beginning to feel guilty that I haven't yet showered.

"Okay, I'm off to shower, guys," I announce, hoping Bubba's 'all business' demeanor will ratchet down a notch.

Less than two minutes later the shower door is flung open, "Momma, I can't find my underwear with the purple stars and lace on them," my youngest hollers through the steam.

"I don't know what to tell you, sweetie. They don't fit me so I didn't take them," perhaps if I don't offer a solution she'll find one on her own?

"MOM!" yells my oldest, furious with me because I took her favorite (read: filthy) jeans out of contention for the plane ride home. "What am I supposed to wear? I am NOT wearing a skirt today! I'll freeze on the plane! I'm wearing those jeans! I'M WEARING THEM!"

My blood pressure is rising faster than the steam. Deep breaths. Rein yourself in, girl.

"No, you're not wearing them. They are filthy and disgusting and I will not let you go out in public like that, much less sit on a crowded plane full of people. You are a clever girl. I know you can find another solution," I hope that doesn't sound too condescending but....wait, don't they have another parent around here somewhere? Now I'm getting mad.

I find myself rushing through my routine, sliming the conditioner on my head and soaping up in a hurry. I've got to get out there and make sure the youngest hasn't decided to forego underwear altogether and pull something out of the suitcase for the oldest to wear instead of the jeans. Wait a minute. The bathroom door slammed a minute ago after I said my piece. Why can't I just stay here? Stay in the moment. This warm water streaming down my spine, inhale the steam and feel it as the moist air fills my lungs. My heart rate slows down. Staying in here for a few more minutes won't make us late for the plane. Letting Bubba solve the girls' issues isn't a crime. Breathe. Nobody out there knows that I'm done with the business portion of the shower and now just reveling in some quiet.

By the time I decided (repeat: I decided) to step out and dry myself off, both girls were dressed appropriately and I was patting myself on the back for having given myself permission to stay in the shower and not worry about what was happening out there.

Unfortunately, by the time I stepped out of the bathroom, Bubba was cursing my decision to purchase four bottles of wine to bring home. He was repacking our suitcase in his expert way, wrapping several layers of clothing around each bottle and shooting me looks that said something akin to, 'why must you torture me so? I tried to tell you we shouldn't bring wine home'. I assured him that when we got to town I would see if there was a way we could get a box from one of the sixteen billion wine purveyors in the area that would transport the wine without risking our wardrobes. His enormous sigh was my answer.

Within ten minutes he was herding us toward the door and his frustration was radiating off him in waves. He is used to traveling solo with only his own stuff to pack and his own timeline to adhere to. The three of us women, while none of us wear makeup or take time doing our hair in the morning beyond running a hairbrush through it, have come to our own version of a 'routine' by understanding each others' need to finish the task we're currently doing if at all possible before moving on to the next one. I knew making sure that all of the treasures we had collected were accounted for was of paramount importance. After spending five days finding acorns and their "hats", pristine oyster shells at Drake's Oyster Farm, unusual seed pods from trees and stickers from the Sonoma Chamber of Commerce, neither girl was about to leave without these trinkets and reminders of our trip together. I collected my belongings and looked under beds and through bed linens for odds and ends, all the while soaking up Bubba's impatience like a sponge.
As we finally made our way to the car, I inquired whether it was worth having one more look around the room to make sure we hadn't left anything behind. The way Bubba closed his eyes for two beats, opened them and said, "If you want to" gave me my answer. Okay. He was ready to go.

After breakfasting in town, watching him herd the girls toward the rental car and being 'instructed' as to how to use the GPS properly I was feeling pretty brittle. I began preparing my speech for later.

By the time we reached the San Francisco airport I was annoyed. The girls were feeling rushed and it showed. They were bickering with each other and as we made our way through the security line my jaw was set. Strangely, about 20 steps past the security line I realized I was at a crossroads. I could either continue to soak up his impatience and frustration with us in order to use it against him in our discussion after the girls were in bed or I could let it be his. I had no worries that we would miss our flight. I'm not exactly a novice traveler and I was sure we had made it in plenty of time to even have a nice lunch before boarding the plane. I recognized his discomfort at traveling with these other creatures who require more time and a little leeway and respected it, even, but I didn't have to embrace it. I could let him feel uncomfortable and, heck, even angry, but I knew it would pass and I didn't have to reflect it back to him. He didn't mean it in a mean way - it wasn't even really directed at us. Or maybe it was, but the end result was that nothing had to come of it. I could let go of the bad feelings and pretend ignorance, all the while making sure the three of us had what we needed to move along comfortably so long as it didn't result in us missing the flight. Huh. Argument avoided. And all I had to do was mind my own business and own my own feelings. Maybe I am learning something new every day. I think I can chalk up two points today!


Jerri said...

Two points? I think you deserve at least 10 for this one, Kari.

Not embracing someone else's anger or discomfort is extraordinarily difficult for anyone, but especially hard for a caretaker like you.

Take a bow. And have an extra chocolate.

Suzy said...

Too bad you had to expend valuable energy on this, but maybe the next will roll right off your back.
Take it easy on yourself..


Anonymous said...

WOW, I am impressed! I struggle with trying to implement this strategy every single day, and am never this good at it. I think you deserve a big gold star. I love how you took the longer shower, love how you let his stuff, be his stuff and took care of you and your feelings. You are my hero!!
Big hugs and love!!

Deb said...

Take the whole damn scoreboard! This is a huge deal what you just talked yourself out of and then into. I'm thinking your clarity might be somehow connected to porcupine holes. Welcome home! Missed you a ton in Sisters, but you were an awfully cute frog.

Ziji Wangmo said...

You scored! It's so hard not to pick up and absorb some one else' negative vibes, esp. in an airport with kids! Many congrats!
It sounds like you had a great visit - Sonoma in the fall is the perfect time to visit.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Bravo Kari!

My first response would have been to be "all over him like an ugly sweater," and then I would have regretted it later. Or justified it.

You can allow other people their feelings and not take it personally.

Hard when it's someone so close to you, but vital.

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